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Old 08-22-2012, 03:02 PM   #1
SandorFrecska
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Default A/C compressor problem

The a/c on my '96 SW2 station wagon is not cooling. I recharged the system, the pressure is good, the compressor is engaging. The car has 135K miles. Any way to test the compressor or some other system component? How difficult is it to replace the compressor? Is there a thread on this?

Thanks

Sandor Frecska

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Old 08-22-2012, 03:49 PM   #2
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Default Re: A/C compressor problem

There are a number of threads on a/c repair on this site. Many start much the same as yours. When you recharged the system, how did you do it? What equipment did you have available? When you say the pressure is good, what does this mean? Did you check both high and low side pressures with a gauge set or using the lousy gauge on the recharge bottle?

Post back some more details of what you have done and how you have done it and there are folks here that will help.

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Old 08-22-2012, 04:45 PM   #3
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Default Re: A/C compressor problem

Thanks for the response. I used the lousy gauge on a recharge bottle I got at AdvanceAuto for $25. I measured the pressure on the low pressure side - the only place the gauge would fit. Corrected for temperature, the pressure was about 50 psi. Prior to this, the clutch would not engage. After charging the clutch engaged, so I assumed the compressor was working. I realize I should have a gauge set and probably even a vacuum pump which is hard to come by around here. I was hoping a simple solution would work.

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Old 08-22-2012, 04:57 PM   #4
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Default Re: A/C compressor problem

One of the requirements to understanding what you did or didn't do is to raise engine rpm to 2k and not perform any pressure measuring at idle rpm. The simple reasoning; do you drive at idle speed or more closer to 2k rpm? Anyone can sit all day with good a/c running and still know that a/c works better at speed. The service manual calls for 2k rpm.

The questions asked of you are already asking you what you don't know and the steep learning curve that's ahead if you want to repair this system. The leak that occurred (otherwise you wouldn't be refilling) was the first thing everyone misses. Find the source of the leak and then decide what needs repair before reaching for the store refill kits. Dye and oil leak out to mark the leak spot.

There are "no simple solutions" to a/c repair. Either you are familiar with refrigeration or not. A/c systems are unforgiving of any mistake.

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Old 08-22-2012, 05:04 PM   #5
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Default Re: A/C compressor problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post

There are "no simple solutions" to a/c repair. Either you are familiar with refrigeration or not. A/c systems are unforgiving of any mistake.
But when you spend the time and repair the system correctly you get a great reward when you open the car door. A rush of cold air. Before that its just numbers on your gauges.

-Robert

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Old 08-22-2012, 05:07 PM   #6
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Default Re: A/C compressor problem

OK, that's what I figured. I know Autozone will rent a manifold gauge set - imagine AAP does too. Basically, you buy it for about $100 and they give you your money back when you return it.

The compressor is protected by a pressure switch in the HP line that cuts it off if the static pressure goes below 40 psi. Clearly, this is the situation your system was in before you added r134. This means there is a leak in the system, and you need to find it and fix it. Fortunately, Saturn put green dye in the system that lights up under UV light (get a cheap UV penlight at AAP). This makes leaks easy to find. Snoop around the system and see what you can find.

With what you have added, the system is now at high enough static pressure to run, but likely still undercharged - hence no cooling. The system will run with about 10 oz of r134 in it on a summer day, but the correct charge is 24 oz. Unfortunately, you can only guess how much is currently in there. There might have been a little in the system before you touched it, plus whatever you added. But, if you find the leak, it all has to come out to do the repair anyway.

Once fixed, you can also rent a vacuum pump along with the manifold/gauge set, draw vacuum on the system for 30 minutes and then close the valves, disconnect the pump and make sure the vacuum holds rock solid for that period. Then, add two 12 oz cans through the LP side of the manifold. Easier said than done, but if you have the interest in a/c repairs, you can learn how to do it.

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Old 08-22-2012, 05:32 PM   #7
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Default Re: A/C compressor problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobertGary1 View Post
But when you spend the time and repair the system correctly you get a great reward when you open the car door. A rush of cold air. Before that its just numbers on your gauges.

-Robert
Well said.

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Old 08-22-2012, 05:33 PM   #8
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Default Re: A/C compressor problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by BV22 View Post
OK, that's what I figured. I know Autozone will rent a manifold gauge set - imagine AAP does too. Basically, you buy it for about $100 and they give you your money back when you return it.

The compressor is protected by a pressure switch in the HP line that cuts it off if the static pressure goes below 40 psi. Clearly, this is the situation your system was in before you added r134. This means there is a leak in the system, and you need to find it and fix it. Fortunately, Saturn put green dye in the system that lights up under UV light (get a cheap UV penlight at AAP). This makes leaks easy to find. Snoop around the system and see what you can find.

With what you have added, the system is now at high enough static pressure to run, but likely still undercharged - hence no cooling. The system will run with about 10 oz of r134 in it on a summer day, but the correct charge is 24 oz. Unfortunately, you can only guess how much is currently in there. There might have been a little in the system before you touched it, plus whatever you added. But, if you find the leak, it all has to come out to do the repair anyway.

Once fixed, you can also rent a vacuum pump along with the manifold/gauge set, draw vacuum on the system for 30 minutes and then close the valves, disconnect the pump and make sure the vacuum holds rock solid for that period. Then, add two 12 oz cans through the LP side of the manifold. Easier said than done, but if you have the interest in a/c repairs, you can learn how to do it.
Well said.

...
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Old 08-22-2012, 09:04 PM   #9
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Default Re: A/C compressor problem

Thanks fellows. I will get the leak detector, etc., and give it another try.

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Old 08-23-2012, 09:54 AM   #10
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Default Re: A/C compressor problem

When searching for leaks, pay particular attention to the two hose connections at the compressor and the service valves on the LP and HP lines. Also, use a mirror to inspect the underside of the compressor for dye/oil trails. Leaks can be anywhere, but these are the more common locations.

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Old 08-23-2012, 12:25 PM   #11
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Default Re: A/C compressor problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by SandorFrecska View Post
Thanks fellows. I will get the leak detector, etc., and give it another try.
I have a nice leak detector but honestly I don't think its very necessary. The best way to find a leak is to use dye in the refrigerant.

-Robert

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